Felixstowe: Business owners in Hamilton Road facing the prospect of huge rates increase

Traders in Felixstowe are today facing the prospect of paying a crippling rise in business rates on top of backdated payments.

Business owners in Hamilton Road were told they would be facing a rate rise last summer – which will be between 15 per cent and 100pc and backdated to 2010 – and many traders claimed it could shut them down.

Talks have been taking place over the issue, and Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey has now met with the Valuation Office to discuss the problem – but she has been told that, while the backdated payments could be spread, businesses will have to pay the rise.

Dr Coffey said: “I was very disappointed by the outcome of the meeting with HMRC and the Minister.

“In my letter to the Chamber of Commerce I pledged to send a letter of support on behalf of any business that is appealing to the Valuation Tribunal and I will of course do that.

“A small consolation is the extended payment terms agreed by the council. Cashflow is key for businesses and longer to pay is a small relief.”

It was discovered that businesses in Hamilton Road were not paying enough in business rates after they asked for a temporary cut in rates due to the work on the town’s shared space scheme. The discovery resulted in the rise which was also backdated to 2010.

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Chairman of the town’s chamber of trade, Andrew Rowdon, believes the increase will hit the high street hard.

He said: “It doesn’t look very good at all. I don’t know if there’s much else we can do but we will try and fight it the best we can.

“I think the fairest thing that could have been done was to say ‘let’s not do it for at least a year but warn them that it could happen’ – that would have been fairer.”

Owner of the Sweet Hut, Dave Ball, added: “I think we probably knew that it was going to be difficult to avoid, whether it was wrong in the first place or not, but it is a kick in the teeth.”

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